Nature September 23, 2017
10 Magnificent Trails You Have To Hike In New Mexico Before You Die
Hiking is a fun pastime anywhere, but in New Mexico, hiking leads to the most incredible mountain vistas, thick forests, waterfalls, rolling meadows, and alien landscapes. No matter which part of New Mexico you hike, you will have a wonderful experience getting out in the fresh air. Add these magnificent New Mexico hikes to your bucket list.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. Williams Lake (Taos Ski Valley)
Williams Lake is contained in a "cirque," a circle formed by an eroding glacier. Reach this magical lake after a moderate hike in the Wheeler Peak Wilderness area. It's about an 8-mile round trip.
2. Gila Middle Fork Trail (Datil)
You can't go wrong with any branch of this trail. Do the easy hike to the Middle Fork (Lightfeather) hot springs or venture up a side canyon to the nearby cliff dwellings.
3. Rio Grande Gorge Trail (Questa)
Many New Mexicans have seen the breathtaking Rio Grande Gorge from above, but make time to hike down inside. River views make this 7-mile, out-and-back hike worth the effort.
4. Frijolito Loop (Los Alamos)
This Bandelier hike takes you to the Frijolito Pueblo archeological site. Be ready for 2.5 miles of fairly strenuous hiking. The Frijolito Loop Trail starts in Cottonwood Picnic Area, just across the creek from the Bandelier visitor center.
5. La Luz Trail (Albuquerque)
Hike to the Sandia Crest, from base to peak! This is a long, hard hike but finishing it yields awesome views and a well-deserved sense of accomplishment. The good news is that you can take ride the Sandia Tramway back down.
6. Windsor Trail/Spirit Lake (Tererro)
This is another tough trail with a magnificent payoff. It's a popular summer trail, but also try a fall hike amid showy yellow and orange leaves. As well as the serene mountain lake, you can look out over the Sangre de Cristos (with a good view of Santa Fe Baldy), the Jemez Mountains, and the Rio Grande Valley.
7. Sandia Foothills Open Space Park (Albuquerque)
Hike, bike or ride a horse here. There are several local trails, plus access to Sandia Mountain Wilderness Area trails too. This open space is just minutes from downtown Albuquerque and has good parking. Bring along a pre-dusk picnic, then venture up the trail a bit and enjoy one of New Mexico's gorgeous sunsets (but watch out for critters).
8. Willie White Trail (Marcia)
This trail near Cloudcroft is a New Mexico favorite. Along the way, you have the opportunity to find a waterfall, lush wildflower meadows, and tall forest trees. Add the Wills Canyon trail to this one and make it a loop hike instead of an out-and-back.
9. Travertine Falls Trail (Tijeras)
This short Cibola Forest hike leads to the 15-foot-high Travertine waterfall. Make sure you plan this hike. Best flows happen during the rainy season. Even if the waterfall is dry, the caves and alcoves along the way make for an interesting hike.
10. Perk Ridge Trail (Ruidoso)
There is a lot to see on this 3 to 5-mile hike – a stream and small waterfall, and a pleasant maple-studded meadow. This hike loops, but if you want an easier path, hike up Perk Canyon and come back the same way. Perk Ridge Trail (aka Perk Canyon Trail) is open to hiking and horseback riding.
Some of these hikes are pretty intense. To find some more manageable hikes in New Mexico, see
8 Amazing New Mexico Hikes Under 3 Miles You’ll Absolutely Love and 8 Easy Hikes To Add To Your Outdoor Bucket List In New Mexico.